The Book Thief

"Weak"

The Book Thief Review


While there's a strong story in here about the power of literature and the fragility of life, this movie takes a far too wistful approach, so it feels like a cheesy bedtime yarn rather than a look at horrors of Nazi Germany. As a result, it's difficult to feel the full force of either the wrenchingly emotional events or the provocative themes.

Set in 1938, the story opens as irreverent 12-year-old Leisel (Nelisse) is taken away from her mother, who is accused of being a communist. She's then adopted by the childless couple Hans and Rosa (Rush and Watson). But while the cheerful artist Hans makes her feel at home, Rosa is relentlessly harsh. Leisel also reluctantly befriends neighbour boy Rolf (Liersch) and embarks on a series of adventures, including stealing books from Nazi book-burning rallies. But the mayor's wife (Auer) doesn't mind Leisel stealing books from her library. And when Hans and Rosa take in a Jewish refugee boy (Schnetzer), he encourages Leisel to start writing her own stories.

Oddly, director Percival softens every dark element in Petroni's screenplay. The Nazis are like school playground bullies, while the Allied bombings leave buildings in rubble but dead bodies bizarrely intact and peaceful. Even the setting looks like a fairy tale, with magical snowdrifts and fanciful spires. And the strangest touch of all is the cheery voiceover narration by Death (Allam), which turns the most horrific atrocities into a kind of wry eventuality. Watching brutal murder presented as a sort of poetic justice is deeply disturbing.

By trying to make this story palatable for children, Percival has made a film that no one can engage with. The only character with any real complexity is Watson's Rosa, who shows more depth as the film goes on. Everyone else is likeable but superficial. At least the film looks terrific, and it has some gorgeous scenes in which Leisel's ability to tell a story boosts both her and those around her. But by making everything in this film feel so relentlessly artificial, Percival undermines the even more urgent message about searching for the truth.

Watch 'The Book Thief' Trailer



The Book Thief

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 131 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 27th November 2013

Box Office USA: $21.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $76.6M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Studio Babelsberg, Fox 2000 Pictures, Sunswept Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Fresh: 61 Rotten: 73

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Brian Percival

Producer: Ken Blancato, Karen Rosenfelt

Starring: as Hans Hubermann, as Rosa Hubermann, as Liesel Meminger, as Max Vandenburg, Nico Liersch as Rudy Steiner, as Narrator / Death (voice), as Alex Steiner, as Liesel's mother, Carina N. Wiese as Barbara Steiner, Barbara Auer as Ilsa Hermann, Levin Liam as Franz Deutscher, as Bürgermeister Hermann, Sebastian Hülk as Gestapo Agent, as Wolfgang, Joachim Paul Assböck as Officer, Julian Lehmann as Liesel's Brother, Sandra Nedeleff as Max's Mother, Kirsten Block as Frau Heinrich, Beata Lehmann as Woman with Champagne, Martin Ontrop as Herr Lehmann, Robert Beyer as Jewish Accountant

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Since its true story is still so timely after some 150 years, we can forgive...

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

This reunion of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg feels like a natural successor...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel is appropriately adapted into a movie by Tim Burton, the gothic...

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Advertisement
Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.